Answers to some of the common questions asked about NAIF, what we do and how we operate.
NAIF is a Commonwealth Government entity established to facilitate economic and population growth in northern Australia through financing infrastructure projects and businesses and helping to catalyse private sector investment.
NAIF’s record to date includes partnering with projects in a broad range of industry sectors in the northern Australia economy, including (however not necessarily limited to) resources, energy, transport, agriculture and aquaculture, education, healthcare, tourism and social infrastructure.
At our core, NAIF’s role is to be an impact investor in northern Australia. We do this by:
- Facilitating the growth of northern Australia;
- Accelerating projects;
- Delivering public benefit;
- Catalysing and crowding in private sector investment;
- Ensuring strong indigenous opportunities and outcomes.
You can find out more here.
NAIF can fund projects in parts of Queensland and Western Australia above the Tropic of Capricorn, as well as the whole of the Northern Territory. We can also fund projects in the areas of Gladstone, Carnarvon, Exmouth, Meekatharra, and Wiluna.
Under the 2021 reforms, NAIF’s geography has been expanded to include the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku in Western Australia.
Projects outside these boundaries may be eligible if they produce significant benefits to northern Australia.
We can finance projects and businesses – large, medium and small – across a range of sectors including mining and resources, agriculture and aquaculture, transport (including airports, ports, rail and logistics), energy, water, education, tourism, social infrastructure, healthcare, telecommunications and manufacturing.
Our investment team is structured to reflect the key sectors across northern Australia, ranging from resources, energy, agriculture and water, transport and social infrastructure.
You can read more about our projects here
Prior to contacting NAIF, please review the information listed .
If you wish your project to be considered for investment by NAIF, there are criteria to be met and assessments to be made before a project can qualify for support. The mandatory criteria (more details can be found here) are:
Your project must
- Involve the development or material enhancement of infrastructure;
- Be of public benefit;
- Be located in, or have significant benefit for, Northern Australia;
- Demonstrate an ability to repay the (or, for equity, provide a return on investment); and
- Have an Indigenous engagement Strategy.
NAIF was provided with an initial $5 billion of capital by the Commonwealth Government. This was increased to $7 billion in January 2022. Across northern Australia as a whole, NAIF has at March 2022 made financing commitments of $3.3 billion to projects in northern Australia. These projects are forecast to generate $25 billion in economic impact and support more than 12,500 jobs (during construction and operations).
We work with project proponents to offer a range of flexible financing products on commercial terms.
To help NAIF do more to grow the north and support the COVID 19 recovery, a package of reforms is being implemented to increase flexibility and access to NAIF finance.
Depending on your project and individual circumstances, and providing you meet NAIF’s mandatory criteria, NAIF can provide:
- Bespoke and flexible loan facilities.
- Letters of credit, guarantees and lending in foreign currency.
- Loans for smaller-scale projects including through financing partnerships.
- Equity finance, subject to a cap of $50m per investment and a minimum investment size of $5m NAIF can invest in non-controlling equity stakes.
- Financing directly to proponents rather than via the States or Territory under certain circumstances.
Operating in northern Australia, we take into account the unique circumstances of the region. Our commercially focused investment teams work closely with proponents to structure loan deals in the most appropriate way.
Being a Government agency, we also ensure careful stewardship of public funds. Central to this is ensuring that proponents demonstrate an ability to repay loans or provide a return on equity investments.
Please note that NAIF cannot provide grants or funding for feasibility studies.
Each project is considered on a case-by-case basis.
However, due to the level of due diligence work required by NAIF including additional work required in relation to assessing public benefit, documentation, and the development of an Indigenous engagement strategy, NAIF primarily focuses on providing loans of $15 million and above.
This is to ensure the costs involved in the assessment and approval process are not outweighed by the benefits potentially being provided by a NAIF Loan.
If you are seeking debt finance for your project of up to $15 million, depending on your geographic location, NAIF’s has a program to assist. See Reforms.
NAIF has a minimum size for equity investment of $5 million.
NAIF does not provide grants or fund business cases. NAIF’s financing is in the form of commercial loans or equity.
Under the 2021 reforms to NAIF, we are now able to contribute equity finance to projects. This is subject to a cap of $50m per investment and being non-controlling stakes. NAIF’s total equity commitments are capped at $500m.
NAIF will primarily focus on the provision of gap equity to assist projects with fundraising in progression. NAIF will not provide development or early-stage equity.
Some of the key reforms to NAIF include:
- An expanded definition of infrastructure and focus on financing development rather than just construction.
- Expanded geography to include the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku in Western Australia
- Broader definition of public benefit.
- NAIF provided with expanded debt tools, including the ability to provide letters of credit, guarantees and lend in foreign currency.
- NAIF can provide finance for smaller loans, through working with financing partnerships.
- NAIF can provide equity finance, subject to a cap of $50m per investment and being on controlling stakes, with NAIF’s total equity commitments to be capped at $500m.
- NAIF can provide financing directly to proponents rather than via the States or the Northern Territory under certain circumstances.
More details can be found on the Reforms page which will be updated as the reforms are progressed.
NAIF works with a range of project proponents. If you can show you meet NAIF’s mandatory criteria, you are welcome to contact us (via email at email@example.com) to express an interest in working with NAIF.
Under the 2021 reforms, NAIF has been given greater tools to potentially support small businesses and projects.
We are seeking to establish a range of partnerships across northern Australia with regional financiers who will provide NAIF funding directly to smaller projects.
Small-scale proponents would benefit from more localised decision making on loan approvals and potentially simplified public benefit and Indigenous engagement requirements.
Using a ‘localised’ approach, under the reforms NAIF will seek to establish a range of partnerships across northern Australia with regional financiers who will provide NAIF funding directly to small-scale proponents seeking investment.
Proponents would benefit from more localised decision making on loan approvals and potentially simplified public benefit and Indigenous Engagement requirements.
NAIF is in discussion with a range of financing partners across northern Australia. The first of these is the Northern Territory Government’s Local Job Fund: https://naif.gov.au/media-releases/new-government-partnership-to-support-jobs-and-investment-in-northern-territory/ targeting providing smaller loans in the Northern Territory.
As partnerships are formed, additional information and links to the financing partner programs will be provided on the NAIF website.
The NAIF Board is responsible for making Investment Decisions.
We apply commercial rigour to all Investment Decisions, which are made independently of government.
Following a successful NAIF Board Investment Decision, the relevant State or Territory may need to approve NAIF’s support and NAIF’s Commonwealth Minister must confirm their support (non-veto) before a Project can receive NAIF . The relevant State and Territory may also be required to approve NAIF’s offer of financing to the project.
NAIF will review and assess information as soon as it is available from the proponent.
In general terms, the NAIF assessment process is broadly aligned with that which a proponent would work through with a commercial bank or other private sector financer.
No. The NAIF Board is responsible for making Investment Decisions after the due diligence processes have been completed.
Following a successful Investment Decision by the NAIF Board, NAIF’s Commonwealth Minister must confirm their support (non-veto) a number of other conditions to funding will need to be satisfied before a Project can receive NAIF funding. The relevant State and Territory may also be required to approve NAIF’s offer of financing to the project.
Following an Investment Decision, NAIF’s Commonwealth Minister confirm their support (non-veto) before a Project can receive NAIF funding.
The relevant State and Territory may also be required to approve NAIF’s offer of financing to the project.
Any conditions of the loan must be met before funds will be made available.
In addition to satisfying the NAIF mandatory criteria and other legislative requirements, before we can provide NAIF funding for a project, all projects must be in compliance with all relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory laws. Projects must also comply with the Commonwealth’s Australian Industry Participation Plan Policy (this requirement applies to NAIF loans of $20m or more) and with the Commonwealth’s Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme where applicable.
NAIF works with project proponents as partners throughout the assessment and approval process. NAIF will discuss with you how we will publicise your project post Investment Decision. Our general approach will be to work with you on publishing a case study of your project and a related news story on the NAIF website.
Please note that within 15 business days of the NAIF Board making an Investment Decision, we are obliged by our Investment Mandate to publish information about the Investment Decision on our website, subject to commercial confidentiality.